Republican News · Thursday 26 October 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Apprentice Boys `hijack' Armistice Day

The Lower Ormeau Concerned Community has condemned plans by the Apprentice Boys to stage a self-styled ``Remembrance parade'' along the Lower Ormeau to the Cenotaph on 11 November. The group says the parade represents a cynical attempt to hijack Armistice Day in pursuit of a sectarian agenda and has vowed to oppose it.

LOCC spokesperson Gerard Rice said: ``This parade is an insult not just to the residents of the Lower Ormeau Road but also to those in the wider community for whom Armistice Day represents a time of remembrance and respect for the dead. Those who died during the wars came from all religions and it is shameful for the Apprentice Boys to try to hijack the day to further their sectarian agenda of getting a parade down the Lower Ormeau Road.''

Rice said the LOCC had deliberately held off making a comment for a week after the Apprentice Boys' announcement until it could establish the full facts about the parade. ``The Parades Commission has told us that the Apprentice Boys intend to parade down the Ormeau Road to meet with the main parade which is assembling in Donegall Pass, before parading to the Cenotaph,'' said Rice. ``In the context of this attempt to parade along the Lower Ormeau Road, we see the siting of the main assembly point in the Donegall Pass as a blatant attempt to intimidate our community.''

The LOCC has contacted the Royal British Legion, which has stressed that the proposed parade does not have its support. The LOCC has also learned that the parade does not have City Council's permission to use the Cenotaph.

``We will be meeting with the Parades Commission in the next week and we will be calling upon them them to faithfully implement their own guidelines, that no parade will take place along the Lower Ormeau Road. this year without agreement,'' said Rice.

In August this year the Parades Commission announced that it had appointed two people, Brendan Mackin and Ken Cleland, to try to seek agreement about a pattern of parades on the Lower Ormeau Road. Rice says that initiative has yet to even properly begin. ``We have had one meeting with the two nominees since August and no meeting at all with the Apprentice Boys since our dialogue broke up in acrimony at the beginning of the year,'' he said.

``Instead of trying to resolve the issues around existing parades, the Apprentice Boys are trying to introduce a new parade into the equation in a most cynical and dishonest way. Far from gaining our agreement, they are in fact setting any progress back even further. We see this as an attempt by the Apprentice Boys to avoid the real issues by trying to gain a parade on the back of Armistice Day. We are absolutely determined that they will not succeed.''

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